Robotics and the Department of Basic Education

So, the Department is finally waking up! Or are they just talking about waking up?

Two years ago, I stood in front of our parents and apologised. I said “We, as a school, have the audacity to tell you that we are preparing your children for their future careers, yet we don’t even know what the future will be like in 10 – 15 years’ time. One thing we can do, however, is teach them to think creatively, co-operatively with others and then to implement their ideas using the available technology”.

It was that apology that led us to introduce robotics as a free compulsory subject at Gallagher Combined School. It took another two years, because Covid hit our activities severely, but we did it.

Now I read on my news feed that the Department is planning (!) to introduce robotics into the curriculum for grades 4 to 6 and grade 8 in 2024 and grade 9 in 2025. Pity the grade 7s!

We took a different approach. We retained abacus maths as compulsory for grades 1 to 6 and introduced robotics as compulsory for grades 7 upwards.

Surely this makes more sense? Abacus maths teaches a love of numbers and ultimately of arithmetic and mathematics in a very fun way which the youngest learners can assimilate. Robotics at that age would just be about playing with new toys. There’s no way that it can help with problem solving. By grade 7, however, a learner is ready to move on to critical thinking and robotics becomes a more appropriate subject.

Let’s hope we’re right and the Department is wrong!

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